It’s often said “personnel is policy” when it comes to an incoming president’s Cabinet selections, and that’s what has some of Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters concerned about the president-elect’s recent choices for key positions in his administration.
On Wednesday came word that Vice-President-elect Mike Pence was meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an outspoken Trump critic. In October, Rice called for Trump to end his bid. “Donald Trump should not be president. He should withdraw,” she wrote in a Facebook post following release of a decade-old video of Trump having a lewd conversation about women. Rice even insisted Trump replace himself with “someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.” In July, Rice declined to attend the Republican National Convention. The Trump team has not indicated whether it is considering Rice for a Cabinet post.
Also Wednesday, the New York Times reported Trump may be considering professional wrestling magnate Linda McMahon for the Small Business Administration. McMahon developed World Wresting Entertainment, or WWE, with her husband, Vince McMahon. Upon leaving Trump Tower Wednesday, McMahon told reporters, “The meeting went great. It was really nice to be up, and I was honored to be asked to come in. Anytime I think the president-elect of the United States asks you to come in for a conversation, you’re happy to do that. We talked about business and entrepreneurs and creating jobs, and we talked about S.B.A.”
Trump may also be considering former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for secretary of Veterans Affairs, Reuters reported Wednesday. Trump has long said a top priority of his administration will be to improve veterans’ care.
The Trump transition team did not respond to WND’s request for comment regarding candidates being considered for Cabinet posts.
However, some of Trump’s selections so far are causing concerns among Trump supporters, including the following picks.
So far, Trump has chosen Steven Mnuchin – a 17-year Goldman Sachs executive – for treasury secretary. Mnuchin also worked with investment groups associated with leftist billionaire George Soros, according to Fortune Magazine. Mnuchin founded the hedge fund Dune Capital Management and has investments in Hollywood. He has contributed at least $8,000 to Hillary Clinton since 2000, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Mnuchin also worked at OneWest Bank, a California institution that was called a “foreclosure machine.”
“During the depths of the financial crisis, Mnuchin was looking to make profits from the ruins of the housing bust,” NPR reported. “In 2009, he put together a group of billionaire investors and bought a failed California-based bank, IndyMac. It had been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after its sketchy mortgage loans went bad.
“Mnuchin and his partners bought IndyMac on the condition that the FDIC agree to pay future losses above a certain threshold. They renamed the bank OneWest Bank and, after running it for six years, they sold it last year for a profit, estimated at close to $1.5 billion.”
OneWest reportedly foreclosed on 36,000 homeowners while the FDIC made more than $1 billion in payments to the bank.
This year, Mnuchin served as national finance chairman for the Trump campaign.
Mnuchin’s position requires Senate confirmation. If confirmed, he will have a part in any efforts to rewrite the tax code and oversee the Internal Revenue Service. The treasury secretary is also responsible for government borrowing in financial markets and imposing or lifting financial sanctions against U.S. enemies.
The left-leaning site the Daily Beast said Trump’s selection of “swamp-dweller” Mnuchin flies in the face of Trump’s repeated promises to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
As WND reported, Trump also selected Elaine L. Chao for transportation secretary, a position that requires Senate confirmation. Chao has deep ties to the anti-coal Bloomberg Foundation, is married to big-time Trans-Pacific Partnership supporter and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and has deep business and political links to China. And that’s just the beginning of her resume. Elaine’s father, James S.C. Chao, is the founder of New York-based Foremost Maritime Corp., which ships goods to China and also buys ships from the China State Shipbuilding Corporation. Chao’s ties to former Chinese President Jiang Zemin run deep. The two were classmates at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and have kept in touch ever since.
Elaine Chao has lobbied for normalized trade with China and has downplayed concerns about China’s growing military threat, espionage campaigns in the U.S. and human rights abuses. Both Chao and McConnell serve on the board of the China Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to helping develop rural parts of China.
If Chao is confirmed by the Senate, she will oversee Trump’s promised infrastructure overhaul.
Secretary of state
For secretary of state, Trump is reportedly considering the following candidates:
- Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton;
- Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.;
- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani;
- Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly;
- Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad;
- Former Army Gen. and CIA Director David Petraeus;
- 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney
As WND reported, Petraeus is a fervent advocate of gun control and expansive government. He supported the program to resettle Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States. Petraeus has pressed for shutting down Guantanamo Bay prison, backed Obama’s Iran policy, decried U.S. favoritism toward Israel and even advocated reconciliation with the Taliban.
As for Romney, WND reported in March when the former Massachusetts governor publicly ripped Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud” who is “playing the American public for suckers.”
“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat,” Romney charged.
“His domestic policies would lead to recession,” Romney continued. “His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.”
Romney also suggested a “bombshell” may lurk in Trump’s taxes.
“I think we have good reason to believe that there’s a bombshell in Donald Trump’s taxes,” Romney told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto Feb. 24. “Either he is not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the vets or the disabled like he has been telling us he’s been doing.”
Romney and his political allies made no secret of their disdain for Trump. Stuart Stevens, who advised Romney during his failed 2012 presidential campaign, said in March that Hillary Clinton was better suited to be commander in chief.
Secretary of homeland security
Trump is reportedly considering the following candidates for homeland security secretary:
- Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio;
- Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke
- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani;
- Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly;
- Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach;
- Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas
The secretary of homeland security will be charged with safeguarding America’s borders and implementing any Trump administration plans to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The consideration of Rep. McCaul is setting off alarm bells for opponents of illegal immigration.
McCaul, who serves as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, “has repeatedly riled conservatives with what they describe as ineffective posturing against President Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration laws,” the Washington Times reported. He helped author the 2015 Secure Our Borders Act, which critics say completely ignored the issue of millions of illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, told the Times, “We certainly hope that Donald Trump would not reward a deceptive pro-amnesty lawmaker like Michael McCaul with a Cabinet position. That would be very disappointing to all of us that believed his campaign promises to secure our borders and deport millions of illegal immigrants under current U.S. laws.”
Gheen said McCaul was a signatory of former House Speaker John Boehner’s “Principles on Immigration Reform,” which offered illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship and voting rights.
White House chief of staff
On Nov. 13, Trump selected Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, to be White House chief of staff. Priebus will manage the West Wing and play a leading role in implementing Trump’s agenda.
Upon learning the news of Trump’s selection of Priebus, nationally syndicated talk-radio host Michael Savage told WND, “We’ve gone from RINOs to Rinso in one election,” dubbing Priebus with the name of the iconic laundry soap.
“I’m advising Trump to beware,” Savage said. “Because, if he loses his base on his first day, what’s going to happen in the first month? This is a criticism of the establishment that is so all-powerful that they’ve already attempted to entangle him.”
He noted Priebus has argued for embracing “comprehensive immigration reform,” which opponents regard as de facto amnesty. And back in April, Savage pointed out, Priebus said he would not let the Trump campaign take over the Republican Party apparatus if he won the nomination, the New York Times reported.
“If we don’t raise our voices now, and say, ‘No, over our dead bodies you’re not doing this to us again, Boehner and McConnell, who are they going to put on the Supreme Court?” Savage asked.
He noted that Priebus will lead the effort to fill 4,000 administration positions and serve as the gatekeeper to the White House.
“He decides who sleeps in the Lincoln bedroom,” Savage said.
“We’re going to have lobbyists; we’re going to have Republican loyalists. We’ll have the same, exact thing we got under Boehner and McConnell,” said Savage.
“Who do you think they’re going to pick? They’re not going to pick young Turks who want to change Washington. They want the status quo.
“It’s going to be the Chamber of Commerce. It’s as though Jeb Bush won.”
Other Trump picks
Trump has also tapped billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary, a position that requires Senate confirmation.
The president-elect chose billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, as his nominee for education secretary. DeVos opposes Common Core and supports school vouchers, charter schools and homeschooling.
Trump selected South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., a position that requires Senate confirmation. Haley once said she was “not a fan” of Trump and that he is “everything a governor does not want in a president.” In January, Haley gave the GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union address during which she criticized Trump, warning, “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices.”
Trump has chosen Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., for CIA director and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., as his nominee for attorney general. Both positions require Senate confirmation. He also selected Army Lt. Gen Mike Flynn for national security adviser, which is not a Cabinet position.